Eye on Extremism: June 17


The New York Times: Dozens Killed In Triple Suicide Bombing In Nigeria

“At least 30 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing in northeastern Nigeria, emergency services reported on Monday, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Haram jihadist group. Three bombers detonated their explosives late Sunday outside a hall in the town of Konduga, where soccer fans were watching a game on television. Konduga is about 22 miles southeast of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. Usman Kachalla, the head of operations for the Nigerian emergency management agency, said on Monday: “The death toll from the attack has so far increased to 30. We have over 40 people injured.” Ali Hassan, the leader of a self-defense group in Konduga, said that the attack happened at around 9 p.m. on Sunday and that the operator of the hall had prevented one of the bombers from entering the packed venue.”

Fox News: Hany Farid: Facebook's Plan For End-To-End Encryption Sacrifices A Lot Of Security For Just A Little Bit Of Privacy

“The Internet, and social media in particular, has been a boon for child predators and abusers. A plan by Facebook to implement end-to-end encryption across its services, including on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, is going to make the problem worse.”

Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Target Two Saudi Airports With Multiple Drone Attacks

“Yemen’s Houthi movement launched fresh drone attacks targeting Jizan and Abha airports in southern Saudi Arabia, the group’s Al-Masirah TV said on Saturday, adding the installations were out of service.  The Saudi-led coalition said in a statement that it had intercepted and downed a Houthi drone targeting the southwestern city of Abha.  The Iran-aligned group said multiple drone strike targeted control rooms at Jizan airport and a fuel station at Abha airport.  “The two airports are now out of service. We promise the Saudi regime more painful days as long as the aggression and siege continue on our country,” the group’s armed forces spokesman said in a tweet published by Al-Masirah TV’s account.  The Houthis have launched several strikes targeting Abha airport since Wednesday, when a missile attack against the same airport wounded 26 people. The Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in 2015 in Yemen’s civil war to restore the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said earlier this week that it intercepted five drones that targeted Abha airport and Khamis Mushait in the same region. In response to these attacks, the Western-backed coalition said it had destroyed Houthi military assets on the outskirts of the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran To Breach Limits Of Nuclear Pact, Putting Bid To Save Deal In Doubt

“Iran said it would exceed limits on its enriched-uranium stockpiles before the end of this month, days after the U.S. accused Tehran of orchestrating a second set of attacks on tankers near a vital global-shipping route. If it carries through the threat, Iran would breach the enriched-uranium cap set in the 2015 nuclear deal, jeopardizing European efforts to save a pact that President Donald Trump withdrew from last year. Iran warned in early May it would withdraw from parts of the nuclear deal in retaliation, but its Monday announcement after two fuel tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday ratcheted up pressure on the U.S. and Europe to respond. Iranian officials framed the move as an ultimatum to Europe, which has furiously tried to the save the deal by finding ways around U.S. sanctions that have cut off trade with Iran and tipped its economy into a painful recession. The nuclear deal was meant to open Iran’s economy in exchange for limits on its atomic ambitions.”

Reuters: Al Shabaab Kill 16 In Kenya And Somalia Blasts

“Somali militants killed eight Kenyan police with a roadside bomb near the border between the two countries on Saturday, officials said, while another eight died in a bombing the same group carried out in the Somali capital.  Both attacks were claimed by Somali Islamist insurgents, who also kidnapped three Kenyan police reservists on Friday from the same area, in Wajir district in northeast Kenya.  Kenyan military forces have occupied part of southern Somalia along the border since 2011. The Kenyans, along with allied Somali militia, wrested control of the territory from al Shabaab jihadists after a spate of kidnappings on Kenyan soil.  Al Shabaab is fighting the weak, U.N.-backed Somali government and its international allies in a quest to impose strict Islamic law.  The vehicle that was hit by the roadside bomb was carrying 11 policemen, police spokesman Charles Owino told Reuters. A local official said eight were killed.  “Eight bodies were found and taken to Wajir. Two were rescued, but they are in critical condition,” said Muhumed Ali Gedi, a member of the local community security team from Wajir who witnessed the rescue mission.  In Mogadishu, al Shabaab detonated two bombs.”

Fox News: Female Jihadists Are Just As 'Motivated' To Build An Islamic State As Men, Report Concludes

“Female jihadists are just as dedicated as their male counterparts when it comes to bringing to life an “Islamic State,” the European Union’s police agency stated Friday. David Ibsen, the Executive Director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) stressed that while there have been many examples of women and girls having served as recruiters, recruits, or fighters for ISIS, these roles are often assumed to earn privileges and a reprieve from the brutality and isolation of their environments. 'To be clear, women within ISIS-held territory are denied basic human rights. Rape and physical abuse for girls as young as nine years old are a constant threat,' he added. 'By cooperating with ISIS, women, and girls can earn freedom of movement, and better access to health care as compared to their non-recruiter counterparts.’”

United States

The Washington Post: Their Neighbor Was Arrested On Terror Charges. This Is How A ‘Typical American Community’ Reacted.

“It was late afternoon in a subdivision an hour north of Atlanta when the chop of one helicopter, then another, began startling neighbors out of their weekday routines.  A man firing up his patio grill realized it wasn’t the usual medevac swooping toward the hospital. A retiree settling down to dinner went out front to see. A woman driving home from work saw the black helicopters from a distance, and as she got closer, realized they were hovering above her very own neighborhood, a huddle of beige houses, trimmed lawns and still-young maples called Saddlebrook. Soon, homeowners were standing in front yards up and down Horseshoe Creek Lane and Walking Horse Trail, watching as patrol cars, black SUVs and FBI agents surrounded a house on the corner, the one with a shed in the back and a welcome wreath on the front door. Text messages and phone calls began flying. It was Maria Taheb’s house. It was something involving her 21-year old son, Hasher, who used to speed through the neighborhood. He was being charged with plotting to blow up the White House. A “martyrdom operation,” as he allegedly described it to undercover agents. According to officials, he had been trying to buy grenades and a shoulder-fired antitank rocket when he was arrested in the parking lot of a Lowe’s, 20 minutes away.”

The Washington Examiner: New Yorker Who Tried To Join ISIS Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

“A New York man who attempted to join the Islamic State was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he tried to provide material support to the terror group and boasted about how easy it would be to carry out an attack in Times Square. Mohamed Rafik Naji, 40, became a “committed supporter” of ISIS in 2014, according to the Department of Justice. He traveled to Yemen in an attempt to join the terror group in March 2015, said federal authorities. After returning to the United States in September 2015, Naji repeatedly distributed pro-ISIS messages on social media and advised an individual on how to travel overseas and join the terrorist group. That individual was a confidential FBI informant, the Justice Department said in a press release Friday. Naji went on to tell the informant that he had pledged an allegiance to ISIS, saying “I belong to the Islamic State only.” He also discussed the potential for carrying out a terrorist attack in Times Square, suggesting that a garbage truck could be driven into a crowd of pedestrians. Naji was arrested in 2016 and pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists in 2018. He was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Friday.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Syria Flare-Up Kills 26 Pro-Regime Fighters

“At least 35 combatants including 26 pro-regime forces were killed Saturday in clashes and air strikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by militants and allied opposition fighters earlier this month, according to the monitor.”Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.  Syrian regime and Russian air strikes killed nine militants and opposition fighters, the war monitor said. Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said. The Idlib region of some three million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September. But it was never fully implemented, as militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.”

Al Arabiya: Rocket Fire Kills 12 Civilians In Regime-Held Village In Syria: State Media

“Rocket fire has killed 12 civilians in a regime-held village in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA has said blaming former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham for the attack. SANA said 15 people were also wounded late Sunday in the attack on Al-Wadihi village south of Aleppo city and said HTS, which controls parts of Aleppo’s countryside as well as most of neighboring Idlib, was responsible. It published graphic pictures purporting to show some of the victims in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack, including of bandaged men and children lying on stretchers, thick blankets covering their bodies. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same death toll -- saying five children were among those killed -- and also blamed extremists based in rural Aleppo for the attack. But the Britain-based monitor did not specify whether HTS or other allied extremist groups were responsible. The attack came as Syrian government forces have been locked in clashes with HTS fighters in nearby Hama province. More than 35 combatants, mostly regime forces, were killed on Saturday in battles in Hama’s countryside, according to the Observatory.”

ABC News: Syria Violence Kills Dozens Of Troops And Civilians In North

“Government airstrikes, intense shelling and fighting on the ground in rebel-held areas in northwest Syria claimed the lives of dozens of people Saturday, Syrian opposition activists said. Syrian state media reported later that an explosion was heard in a military area in Dummar, a northwestern suburb of the capital Damascus. Syrian state TV said the blast was the result of an explosion in an arms depot that triggered some fires in nearby brush. State TV gave no further details about the cause of the blast or whether there were fatalities. In northwest Syria, fighting intensified as government forces pressed their offensive toward Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country's lengthy civil war. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense said at least 10 civilians were killed in Saturday's airstrikes and shelling of rebel-held villages and towns. Syrian state media said militants shelled government-held areas causing material damage.”

Vice News: The Last Days Of The White Helmets In Syria

“Only a few hundred White Helmets are left in this last remaining Syrian town that's not under Bashar Assad’s control. And their days may be numbered: The Syrian Army and its Russian allies have already started a bombing campaign here, killing 25 in the city of about 3 million. There were once thousands of these volunteers across Syria, many of them carpenters, bakers and medical students, who stepped up when state agencies failed to protect and rescue the civilians caught up in rebel-held areas of the Syrian conflict. They've responded to some of the most brutal bombing campaigns of the 21st century. But the regime often targets the White Helmets (the Syrian Civil Defense), employing a “double tap” tactic: They will bomb an area, and when the paramedics come on the scene, they bomb it again. Moaaed Hafi, 27, has faced that danger since he took up ranks with the White Helmets in Eastern Ghouta five years ago. Among his rescue efforts, he’s pulled dozens of young children from underneath the rubble.”


ABC News: Iran Attempted To Shoot Down US Drone Over Tanker Attack Site In Gulf Of Oman

“Iran attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone that was surveilling the attack on one of two tankers hit in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday morning, U.S. Central Command said. The attempt missed the MQ-9 Reaper by “approximately one kilometer.” The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous along with another tanker, the Front Altair, were damaged by mines that the U.S. said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had placed on the ship's hulls. “According to our assessment, a modified Iranian SA-7 surface-to-air missile attempted to shoot down a U.S. MQ-9, at 6:45 a.m. local time, June 13, over the Gulf of Oman, to disrupt surveillance of the IRGC attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous,” CENTCOM spokesperson Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement to ABC News on Saturday. CENTCOM said that, prior to the attempt by Iran to shoot down the MQ-9, the drone had observed the Front Altair on fire. This handout powerpoint slide provided by U.S. Central Command damage shows an explosion and a likely limpet mine can be seen on the hull of the civilian vessel M/V Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. “The SA-7 was ineffective and its closest point of approach to the MQ-9 was approximately one kilometer,” Brown said.”

USA Today: New Jersey Woman Admits Role In Smuggling $2 Million In Airplane Parts To Iran

“A Morristown woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with an Iranian national to smuggle thousands of airplane components – worth an estimated $2 million – to Iran. Joyce Eliabachus, also known as Joyce Marie Gundran Manangan, 52,  pleaded guilty in Newark Federal Court to one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in connection with her role in an international procurement network. The alleged ringleader of that network, Peyman Amiri Larijani, was charged Tuesday in connection with the scheme, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito said. Larijani, 33, a citizen and resident of Iran, was charged with one count each of conspiracy to violate Iranian transactions and sanctions regulations, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States. Larijani was also charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in two separate indictments unsealed June 4, 2019."


Associated Press: Mortar Attack On Iraqi Base Home To US Troops; No Casualties

“Militants in Iraq fired three mortar shells early Saturday into an air base just north of Baghdad where American trainers are present, causing no casualties, the Iraqi military said. The military statement said the attack on Balad air base caused small fires in bushes on the base, which were extinguished immediately. An Iraqi army general said the attack occurred shortly after midnight Friday. The senior officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said American trainers are stationed at Balad air base. The attack comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East between the United States and Iran, which ratcheted up on Thursday after suspected attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Iran has denied involvement. Last month, a rocket exploded less than a mile away from the sprawling U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, also causing no casualties. On Friday night, a rocket struck a home in Baghdad’s Jadriyah neighborhood causing material damage, the Iraqi military said. The military did not say if the rocket had fallen short before reaching the Green Zone, which is located on the other side of the Tigris river. Like neighboring Iran, Iraq is a Shiite-majority country, and has been trying to maintain a fine line between allies Tehran and Washington.”

Foreign Policy: How Europe Is Handing Off Its ISIS Militants To Iraq

“Standing in his prisoner’s yellow jumpsuit, Mustapha Merzoughi remained quiet at first. He shook slightly and brushed at his eyes, before assuming a neutral expression. His Arabic appeared to be limited, and when the judge first began to question him, he stayed silent, eventually saying in French: “There is no point that I speak. Whatever I say, you will convict me to death.” About an hour later, he was. Merzoughi was one of 11 French defendants that an Iraqi court sentenced to hang over the course of trials from May 26 to June 3. He was captured, however, not in Iraq but in neighboring Syria, by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during the last battles against the Islamic State. Merzoughi and his fellow ISIS defendants were the first official cases of foreigners transferred from Syria to Iraq for trial—juridical guinea pigs in an experimental solution to the problem facing many European countries whose citizens left home to fight for the Islamic State. The Europeans do not want them to return, but the SDF does not have the sovereign power to sentence them, leaving their citizens in limbo. Transferring them to Iraq allows Europe to sidestep the issue, but it comes with a price—or, to be more precise, a fee.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Shiite Militias Foil Islamic State Plot To Infiltrate Into Salahuddin

“Iraqi Shiite militias thwarted on Sunday a plot by Islamic State militants to sneak into Samarra city in Salahuddin province, where they planned to carry out terrorist attacks. In a statement carried by Alsumaria News TV channel, the Samarra Operations Command of the Shiite Saraya al-Salam said that “it received intelligence information on a plot by IS terrorists to infiltrate into al-Madarat city in Samarra on board six boats.” The militiamen, according to the statement, opened fire at the IS terrorists and forced them to retreat. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital. In December 2017, former Iraqi prime minister Haidar al-Abadi announced full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring the end of war against IS members.”


Voice Of America: Taliban, US Set To Hold Crucial Round Of Afghan Peace Talks

“The United States and the Taliban are scheduled to hold a crucial round of negotiations in Qatar early this week amid high expectations of a breakthrough in nearly a year-long process toward ending the war in Afghanistan. This would be the seventh round of talks hosted by the Qatari capital of Doha, where the insurgent group maintains an informal political office. The U.S. team is being led by Afghan-born American reconciliation envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad. The dialogue, which excludes the Afghan government, has focused on the withdrawal of American forces from the country in exchange for Taliban assurances that transnational terrorists would be not be allowed to use Afghan soil for attacks against other countries. U.S. and Taliban negotiators were expected to conclude an agreement covering the two issues in their last meeting in May, but the discussions stalled over the Taliban's refusal to cease hostilities and participate in an intra-Afghan peace dialogue until Washington announced a troop drawdown timetable.  A Taliban spokesman has dismissed reported assertions of a stalemate in the dialogue in the wake of U.S. insistence that the final agreement must cover a cease-fire and the insurgent group's engagement in intra-Afghan talks, involving the Kabul government.”

Xinhua: 14 Militants Killed In Airstrike In S. Afghanistan

“A total of 14 militants have been confirmed dead after military planes stormed Taliban hideouts in Mizan district of southern Zabul province on Friday, said an army statement released here Saturday. The sorties, according to the statement, was conducted late on Friday that in Regi area of Mizan district as part of night operations, killing 14 armed insurgents and capturing two others. There were no casualties on security and civilians, the statement said. Taliban militants who are active in parts of Zabul province have yet to make comment.”


The Hindu: Pakistan’s terror policy to come under scrutiny

“Pakistan has failed to complete 25 of the 27 action points given by the international terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to check funding to terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) and frontal groups like Jamat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. With this, multilateral lenders like the IMF, the World Bank and the EU may continue downgrading Pakistan, making its financial situation more precarious. The Paris-headquartered FATF has asked Pakistan to explain whether it has launched any investigation into the $7 million allocated to maintain schools, madrasas, clinics and ambulances originally operated by terror groups like LeT, JeM, and LeT fronts Jamat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. JuD and FIF are founded by terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan is in deep trouble at the FATF meeting beginning Sunday in Florida in the US, people aware of the development said. “It has been unable to complete 25 of its 27 action points. It has one last chance, till its 15-month deadline ends in October 2019, when the FATF Plenary will be held,” one of them added. In June 2018, Pakistan was placed in the ‘Grey’ list and given a 27-point action plan by FATF.”


Voice Of America: Yemen’s Houthis Again Strike At Saudi Airports

“Yemen’s Houthi movement launched fresh drone attacks targeting Jizan and Abha airports in southern Saudi Arabia, the group’s Al-Masirah TV said Saturday, adding that the installations were out of service. The Saudi-led coalition said in a statement that it had intercepted and downed a Houthi drone targeting the southwestern city of Abha. The Iran-aligned group said multiple drone strikes targeted control rooms at Jizan airport and a fuel station at Abha airport. “The two airports are now out of service. We promise the Saudi regime more painful days as long as the aggression and siege continue on our country,” the group’s armed forces spokesman said in a tweet published by Al-Masirah TV’s account. The Houthis have launched several strikes targeting Abha airport since Wednesday, when a missile attack against the same airport wounded 26 people.”

The National: Houthi Rebels Intensify Hodeidah Attacks, Prompting Fears Of Ceasefire Collapse

“The Houthi militia launched a large attack in Yemen on Sunday, targeting sites controlled by the joint forces in Hodeidah as a new escalation threatens the UN peace efforts in the port city. The Houthis had attacked sites controlled by Al Amalikah Brigades in Kilo 16, east of the city, Arab Coalition spokesman Col Wathah Al Dubaish told The National on Sunday. The rebels also attacked Al Amalikah divisions in Al Fazah, in the south of Hodeidah, pushing towards the coast to try to cut the main route linking the southern districts. “The Houthi rebels have been escalating all over the western coast in Hodeidah," Col Al Dubaish said. "They pushed huge forces to Al Jabaliya area, attacking our sites with all kinds of weapons." Confrontations in Al Jabaliya continued for more than 24 hours as the Houthis intensified their attacks after one of their high-ranking commanders was killed in clashes on Saturday.”

Al Jazeera: Yemen's Houthis Claim New Attack On Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport

“Yemen's Houthi movement launched a new drone attack targeting the Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia, the group's Al-Masirah TV said on Monday. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from Saudi Arabia, which on Saturday launched air attacks on Houthi rebel forces in Yemen's capital Sanaa, part of an escalation of tit-for-tat attacks that has stoked regional tensions. The Houthis have stepped up drone and missile attacks on cities in neighbouring Saudi Arabia in recent months as tensions have risen between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied with the United States further afield across the Middle East. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in support of the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was forced out of power by the Houthis. Last week, the Houthis launched several drone and missile strikes targeting southern regions of Saudi Arabia, including Abha, Khamis Mushait and Jizan. At least 26 people were wounded in a missile attack on Jizan airport carried out by the Houthis on Wednesday. Since the Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began their military campaign nearly four years ago, more than 10,000 people have been killed.”

Saudi Arabia

NBC News: Saudi Prince Vows To Confront Threats After U.S. Blames Iran For Tanker Attacks

“Saudi Arabia will not hesitate to confront regional threats, the country's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said in an interview published days after the U.S. blamed Iran for attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. “The kingdom does not want war in the region, but we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty and our vital interests," Salman told influential pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. In the interview published Sunday, the crown prince blamed Saudi Arabia's arch rival Iran and its agents for carrying out “acts of sabotage” to four tankers near the port of Fujairah, including two Saudi carriers, last month. The attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz earlier this week stoked fears of a broader conflict in the region. Iran has denied any role in the incidents.”

Al Jazeera: Who Is Bombing Hospitals In Syria

“My name is Rashed al-Ahmad. I'm a pharmacist originally from Kurnaz, a small village in the countryside of Syria's Hama province. I fled my home years ago to avoid being detained or killed by the regime for providing medicine and drugs to the injured protesters. In 2014, I moved with my family to a nearby village outside the regime's control called Kafr Nabouda and got a job at a primary health centre. I was working there until a month and a half ago when the regime, backed by Russia, bombarded the village and destroyed the clinic, forcing us to flee again. I used to spend long hours at work, doing all I could to serve my new community. I never thought that Russia and the regime would target us. The clinic was small and most of our patients were children and the elderly. Ten days after the attack, in a briefing to the United Nations Security Council about the assault on northwest Syria, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, mentioned Kafr Nabouda, as he was listing health facilities in northwest Syria that had been attacked. I hoped he would name and shame the perpetrators, but he didn't. Since that speech, he still hasn't condemned either the Syrian regime or its backer, Russia, who are responsible for destroying the clinic.”

Middle East

NPR: Yazidi Children, Torn From Their Families By ISIS, Forget Their Identities

“Watfa and Jeelan are finally free of the ISIS woman who kept them captive for the past five years. But she's the only "family" they can remember and they want to go back to her.”

Gulf News: Turkey, Qatar Support Hampering Liberation Of Tripoli

“Military support by Qatar and Turkey to militias has hampered an ongoing campaign by Libyan forces to “liberate” the capital Tripoli, the country’s top lawmaker has said. In April, forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar initiated a massive offensive to capture Tripoli from militias loyal to a weak UN-backed government headed by Fayez Al Serraj. Head of the Libyan elected parliament, Aqila Saleh, blamed Qatari-Turkish military support to the Serraj-aligned militias for the delay in the city’s takeover. “But this will not discourage the army from doing its duty towards the country’s security and stability,” Saleh told pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat in remarks published Monday. Doha and Ankara are staunch backers of militias in strife-plagued Libya.”


Fox News: Libyan Officials Say Hifter's Forces Fighting IS In South

“Libyan officials say forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Hifter are pursuing Islamic State militants in the country's south, killing more than a dozen militants over the past three days. The officials said Sunday that the self-styled Libyan National Army began its attack on a militant hideout in the mountainous area of Haruj earlier this week. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. The LNA media center said Friday that the IS militants were responsible for recent attacks in southern areas. IS acknowledged the ongoing LNA attack and claimed to have killed and wounded dozens of LNA troops. Hifter's forces launched a military offensive in early April aimed at taking the capital, Tripoli, from a United Nations-aligned but weak administration.”


Al Arabiya: Thirty Dead In Nigeria Triple Suicide Bombing

“Thirty people were killed in a triple suicide bombing attributed to Boko Haram extremists in northeast Nigeria late Sunday, emergency services reported. “The death toll from the attack has so far increased to 30. We have over 40 people injured,” Usman Kachalla, head of operations at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said on Monday, raising the tally from 17 dead and 17 wounded. Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometers from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV.”


The Washington Post: 10 Kenyan Police Officers Killed In Blast Near Somalia

“At least 10 Kenyan police officers died after their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near the Somali border in a suspected extremist attack on Saturday, officials said. Those killed in the Wajir County blast were among 13 officers who had been pursuing suspected extremists who had kidnapped police reservists, the officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share the information. Police on Friday said a number of gunmen thought to be members of the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group stormed Konton center in Wajir East and kidnapped three reservists. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack. Al-Shabab often targets Kenyan security forces. It has vowed retribution for Kenya’s deployment of troops to Somalia in 2011 to combat the extremists after they carried out high-profile kidnappings inside Kenya and hurt the country’s lucrative tourism industry. In recent months the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab has resumed the abductions. In April the extremist group kidnapped two Cuban doctors in Mandera County and demanded $1.5 million for their return. In November an Italian volunteer, Silvia Romano, was kidnapped in southern Kenya’s coastal region by gunmen linked to al-Shabab."


Reuters: French, Malian Forces Kill 20 Militants In Operation: Mali Army

“Allied French and Malian forces killed 20 militants in an operation in a part of northern Mali where Islamic State operates, a spokesman for the West African nation’s military said on Sunday.  The operation in the district of Akabar, a remote part of a game reserve near the border with Niger and not far from the Malian city of Menaka, was continuing, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone said by telephone.  “But I can tell you that 20 terrorists have been neutralized,” he said.  Mali has become increasingly engulfed in violence since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 was hijacked by Islamist militants, prompting France to intervene to push them back the following year.  Several jihadist factions and allied criminal gangs have regrouped and set up operations in parts of Mali, from where they have launched attacks across the Sahel.  They also now have a significant presence in swathes of neighbor Burkina Faso, and in some remote parts of Niger.  Despite the deployment of 4,500 French troops meant to contain the violence in the Sahel, it has steadily worsened, and the Islamists have succeeded in triggering an ethnic conflict.  Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided the ethnic Dogon village of Sobane Da last Sunday and Monday, killing 35 people, according to the government, although a local authority maintains the real figure is 95 deaths.”

The New York Times: Roadside Blast In Niger That Hit Americans Shows Growing Threat, Officials Say

“The roadside bomb that disabled an American vehicle in Niger last week was rudimentary and harmed no one, but its location — roughly 70 miles into the country’s interior and minutes from an American Army outpost — was unusual and alarming, military officials said. The strike was the latest in a string of attacks carried out by Islamic State affiliates using roadside bombs in Niger that have, until now, mostly targeted Nigerien forces. No extremist group claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred on the outskirts of the small town of Oullam. The blast’s proximity to American troops has increased concerns about the growing threat of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, that have long defined American conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bomb used on June 8, according to a military official, was activated by a weatherproofed pressure plate and wired to an 81 millimeter mortar projectile, which exploded, causing a main charge of nearly a dozen 60 millimeter mortar rounds to detonate. The explosives were buried roughly three feet underground and positioned at a key choke point on a road that led to a shooting range frequented by American, Canadian and Nigerien troops.”

Africanews: 20 Jihadists 'Neutralized' In French-Malian Counter-Terrorism Operation

“A joint operation by the Malian army and the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane, underway in northeastern Mali, has resulted in the “neutralization” of some 20 jihadists, the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) announced Saturday evening. “About 20 terrorists neutralized in #Ménaka. The #FAMa and #Barkhane are conducting a joint operation in the locality of Akabar, in the Ménaka sector. This operation made it possible to neutralize about twenty terrorists,” the Malian army reported on Twitter, without further details. A jihadist group that calls itself the “Islamic State in the Great Sahara” (EIGS) is mainly active in this region of Ménaka and across the border with Niger. In particular, he claimed responsibility for the October 2017 attack on Tongo Tongo in Niger. This ambush cost the lives of four American and four Nigerian soldiers. Northern Mali had fallen in March-April 2012 under the control of jihadist groups, largely dispersed by a military intervention launched in January 2013 at the initiative of France. This intervention continues with Operation Barkhane, which mobilizes some 4,500 soldiers in the Sahel.”


NPR: 'I Would Do Anything For Her': A German Dad's Search For His Daughter, Taken By ISIS

“Five years ago this month, Danisch Farooqi dropped off his daughter, Aaliya, at her mother's house in the German port city of Hamburg. He remembers walking the girl, then almost 4, to his ex-wife's front door and hugging her. “And I said, 'I'll see you next week,' “ he recalls. A few days later, he received a call from an unknown number in Turkey. It was his ex-wife's new husband. He told Farooqi he was in Turkey, recovering from injuries sustained while fighting in Syria. He'd brought the whole family to Turkey, including Aaliya. “I was shocked,” says Farooqi, a native of Hamburg. “I didn't know what [he] was talking about.” He demanded an explanation and threatened to call the police unless Aaliya came home immediately. But the man hung up on him. A month later, Farooqi got a WhatsApp message from his ex-wife, saying they had moved to Syria. “She said, 'We went to the Islamic State, and we can't believe how somebody can want to stay with the unbelievers,' “ Farooqi recalls. “She said that if I wanted to see my daughter, I would have to go to Syria.” He remembers how heavy those words felt, the dread a weight on his heart. He remembers weeping. “I never in my wildest dreams believed this would happen,” he says, choking up at the memory.”


The Wall Street Journal: Europe’s ISIS Abdication

“While Islamic State’s physical caliphate is gone, many surviving ISIS fighters and their families—who came from across the world—still pose a security threat. Yet Western European countries mostly are refusing to repatriate their citizens to face justice or rehabilitation at home.  About 40,000 foreigners joined ISIS, some 5,000 from Europe. Many brought families, while others married and had children in the caliphate. The Syrian Democratic Forces, amid its battlefield victories, has detained thousands of ISIS veterans. Today the SDF has about 2,000 foreign militants from more than 50 countries in custody, and they continue to trickle in. Thousands of their wives and children—including European citizens—live in the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. The SDF has done what it can with limited resources, but as summer temperatures rise there’s concern that refugees and detainees will start dying of heat exposure in the Syrian desert. The most humane and safe solution is to return home as many ISIS fighters and their families as possible. About 300 Americans joined the group, and many died on the battlefield or went missing. Washington’s policy is to recover Americans in Syria and prosecute when possible.”

The Washington Examiner: ISIS-Linked Media Threatens Barcelona Cathedral Amid US Warnings Of Terror Plots In Spain

“An Islamic State-affiliated media outlet has issued multiple threats against tourist sites in Spain, as the U.S. State Department continues to warn travelers that terrorists are plotting attacks in the country. Al-Muntasir Media, an unofficial pro-ISIS media outlet, posted three threatening messages on Twitter targeting Barcelona, according to the Daily Star. The most recent message included a photo of the Sagrada Familia, a 137-year-old landmark cathedral built by architect Antoni Gaudi that draws an estimated 4.5 million visitors to Barcelona each year. Al-Muntasir also issued a threat to northern Basque Country in Spain last month, posting on social media, “Only death.” Spain has been ramping up security amid the concerns, deploying 40,000 police in tourist areas. The U.S. State Department raised the travel alert level for Spain in March, warning tourists to “Exercise increased caution in Spain due to terrorism.” “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Spain,” the State Department said. “Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.”

The Wall Street Journal: Europe’s ISIS Abdication

“While Islamic State’s physical caliphate is gone, many surviving ISIS fighters and their families—who came from across the world—still pose a security threat. Yet Western European countries mostly are refusing to repatriate their citizens to face justice or rehabilitation at home. About 40,000 foreigners joined ISIS, some 5,000 from Europe. Many brought families, while others married and had children in the caliphate. The Syrian Democratic Forces, amid its battlefield victories, has detained thousands of ISIS veterans. Today the SDF has about 2,000 foreign militants from more than 50 countries in custody, and they continue to trickle in. Thousands of their wives and children—including European citizens—live in the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. The SDF has done what it can with limited resources, but as summer temperatures rise there’s concern that refugees and detainees will start dying of heat exposure in the Syrian desert.”

Euronews: Six Belgian Orphans Of Islamic State Fighters Taken In By Belgium

“Six Belgian orphans whose parents were members of the so-called Islamic State (IS) have arrived in Belgium, the country's foreign minister, Didier Reynders, announced on Friday.  “The children are now being monitored and supervised by the competent local state attorneys and youth support services,” Reynders also revealed on Twitter.  The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) —which controls large swathes of eastern Syria after recapturing the territory from IS — announced it had handed the children over to Belgian authorities on Thursday but no repatriation date had been disclosed. The group, composed mainly of Kurdish fighters, is holding thousands of jihadists in camps and prisons, including some 1,000 foreign fighters, according to the Washington-based Middle East Institute. SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter that he is “glad to see more countries are taking responsibility for their citizens”, adding however that “this must be extended to men and women in our camps and prisons, not only children”. European countries are currently wrestling with the idea of whether to repatriate citizens captured in Syria and Iraq fighting for IS, who are considered a security risk. So far only a small number of women and children have been brought back.”

Southeast Asia

Xinhua: Bombing Attacks In Sri Lanka Hints New Type Of Terrorism Threat In South Asia, Says Nepal's Defense Minister

“Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokhrel said on Sunday that the bombing attacks in Sri Lanka in April had sent a clear and strong message that a new type of terrorism threat has arrived in South Asia. The defence minister made the remarks while addressing a seminar titled “Dialogues on Public Security: Countering Terrorism” organized by the Nepali Army in the capital on Sunday. On April 21, multiple terror attacks struck churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on the Easter holiday, killing more than 200 people and wounding hundreds. Pokhrel said the Nepali government thinks it is very important to understand the complex phenomenon of terrorism in regional and national contexts. “We also think that we need to learn from the lessons and experiences of our friends around the world, on counter-terrorism,” he said. The minister stressed the need for domestic, regional, and international efforts to address the problem of terrorism. “In this century, many security threats are cross-cutting and unconventional in nature. They are neither limited by national boundaries nor dealt with by conventional warfare. The worst of these threats to challenge humanity and global security is terrorism,” the minister said.”

News 18: Maldives Seeks Foreign Help to Deal with Islamic State Fighters Held in Syrian Detention Camps

“The Maldives Saturday called for international help to rehabilitate up to 160 of its nationals languishing in Syrian detention camps after the defeat of the Islamic State group. Speaker Mohamed Nasheed said the Maldives kept a close tab on citizens who had joined the militant group, but that the island nation was not ready to accept them back without an internationally supervised reintegration programme. Visiting neighbouring Sri Lanka where 258 people were killed in jihadi attacks recently, Nasheed said the question of foreign IS fighters in Syria should be addressed as a global issue. As many as 160 Maldivians are thought to be held in detention camps after the fall of IS in March. “We do not know the situation they have gone through. We don't have the capacity to rehabilitate these people to the extent that they will not have a further impact on society,” Nasheed said. “I think the international community should join together and decide what we should do to the returnees. Hopefully, there is an international arrangement where they are first received, not necessarily to their countries of origin or nationality.”  He said the Maldives was concerned about the 30 to 40 children said to be of Maldivian parents now living in detention camps in Syria, but insisted that there should be international involvement to screen the parents.”


Gizmodo: Hundreds Of Current And Former Law Enforcement Officers Reportedly Found In Extremist Facebook Groups

“Hundreds of current and former police officers and other law enforcement personnel are members of “Confederate, anti-Islam, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups” on Facebook, according to an investigation by the U.S. Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal News posted on Friday. Reveal’s data is from prior to mid-2018, when Facebook removed a function that allowed downloading of membership lists from groups. Reveal wrote it created two separate lists of “members of extremist groups and members of police groups,” then compared them to find 14,000 cross-matches. Reveal further checked to see which of those accounts belonged to individuals with a verifiable history of employment in law enforcement (as opposed to people with personal ties to or an interest in the profession), finding “almost 400 users were indeed either currently employed as police officers, sheriffs or prison guards or had once worked in law enforcement.” Reveal wrote that some 150 of the officers in question were involved with “violent anti-government groups”: The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy, but are replete with racism inside.”

Forbes: How Social Media Companies Need To Address Disinformation Globally

“Political activists and autocratic governments are misusing the Internet to distribute massive amounts of deliberately false information. This harmful content is undermining political discourse and encouraging extremism in the U.S. and elsewhere. The debate about this issue has focused disproportionately on the U.S. and Europe, and partly for this reason, the big Internet companies have dramatically underinvested in their operations in the global South. Each of the major online platforms--Google, Facebook, and Twitter--have been bold in heralding their global growth to investors. Most of this growth is occurring in places like India, Nigeria, and Brazil.  But the companies have failed to devote proportionate resources to serving their users in these places because advertising revenues there still are relatively modest. The Internet giants are trying to have it both ways: celebrating growth, on the one hand, but failing to provide essential support and oversight, on the other.”